Driver Shortage In Canada?

Driver Training at Saferway
Driver Training at Saferway Driver Training School in British Columbia, Photo Courtesy of Randy Eckert

In the US we have heard for years about the driver shortage.  But, what about in Canada – are they experiencing the same issues?  That’s the topic of one of my latest columns for Western Trucking News.

Is the story really in different on either side of the border?

Article Highlights:

    • A new report (February 2013)  by the Conference Board of Canada (CBC) suggests that due to aging in the driver workforce and a growing demand from trucking services, “the for hire trucking industry can expect to face a driver supply and demand gap of nearly 25,000 drivers by 2020 in a business-as-usual scenario.” But, it could become worse if labor productivity is lower in future years.
    • A 2012 report by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage identified truck drivers as the most important asset of the industry and that respect would go a long way in helping with recruitment and tenure.
    • Randy Eckert, President of Saferway Driver Training School in British Columbia says the demand for new truck drivers is palpable.
    • Eckert suggests that the standards are too low, the testing at the Drivers Service Centers is too low, and the training standards are too low.
    • North America has known of the driver shortage problem for many years, yet it is as if the governments have had their heads shoved in the sand

READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE


Hours of Service Questions

It’s fascinating how the new US Hours of Service rules are impacting drivers across North America.  Quite frankly, there is significant concern about the financial impact to drivers of the new rule.  And, that concern is not just relegated to American drivers.  Interestingly, that’s the topic of my latest column in Canada’s Western Trucking News, where I try to get some clarification.

US DOT
US DOT Headquarters

Read the column, which includes commentary from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and an expert in DOT rules, Chett Winchell of Your Compliance Center.

 

 

 

 


Long Term Highway Funding, Step 1

Congressman Tom Petri

The first step toward authorizing a long term highway funding bill takes place Thursday, March 14.  The Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, under Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI) will hold a hearing on the implementation of reforms and requirements including in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

Petri told me this hearing will lay the foundation for a series of hearings over the next year or so that he hopes will lead to a “real highway program reauthorization before the Congress is over.”

When asked what he meant by “real highway authorization” Petri told me, “A 6 year one that is adequately funded.”  He suggested adequate long term funding is needed to ensure the country has a first rate infrastructure.

Click Here To Listen to my brief conversation with Congressman Petri.

MAP-21 is the current surface transportation law, which was enacted last July and expires at the end of Fiscal Year 2014 (September 30, 2014).

“Ensuring that the Department of Transportation is making progress in implementing MAP-21 provisions, and preparing for the next surface transportation reauthorization are both priorities for the Committee and Subcommittee this Congress,” Petri said in a prepared statement.  “I look forward to hearing from the Department on its efforts to implement major reforms, such as project delivery and program consolidation required by MAP-21.”

Scheduled to appear are:

  • Victor M. Mendez, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration
  • Peter M. Rogoff, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration
  • Anne S. Ferro, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • David L. Strickland, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Additional information, testimony, and live webcast link will be posted here as it becomes available.

Transportation Infrastructure / Amtrak #Fail

  As the country approaches yet another fiscal cliff (though this time it is called a sequester), the President’s 2013 State of the Union Address outlined an aggressive program to address America’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure.

  The President said, “America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemens America – a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina – has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs.”

  Specifically, the President proposed “a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.”

  Although it is difficult to disagree with the call to improve America’s infrastructure, it’s also unfortunate that no specific plan was proposed to pay for these improvements. The fact that the country is likely to experience a sequestor whereby $85 billion from the budget will be slashed, resulting in a loss of 750,000 jobs (according to the Congressional Budget Office) and a lower economic growth rate, it’s unlikely any meaningful infrastructure improvement funding will occur.

Amtrak  Fortunately, there is still hope for the President’s call for high speed rail, right? At least that segment of the transportation industry will see a benefit, right? Well, perhaps not. A recent column by Daniel Hanson, and economist with the American Enterprise Institute, calls for an end to Amtrak. One might wonder why when Amtrak posted its best year in 2012 since 1975- it only lost $361 million.

  Yes, it ONLY LOST $361 Million in 2012 – it’s best year since 1975. Given the relative success, or lack thereof, of the Amtrak system, why would high speed rail be a priority? Will it suddenly become profitable (or at least break even)?

  At minimum, I agree with Hanson in that Amtrak should be required to submit a legitimate business plan to Congress showing how it will be in the black – even with federal funding.

Listen to my interview with Daniel Hanson discussing Amtrak and its financial comparison to the Interstate system. (From my local radio program)

  The President’s call to action on infrastructure improvements with no specific funding mechanism, the upcoming sequestor with no solution in sight, and the failed Amtrak program, highlights the need for the American citizenry to demand real leadership both in Congress and in the White House.

Increasing Fuel Taxes

My latest column for Challenge Magazine discusses state and federal fuel taxes.  While it is apparent there will be an increase in some form of fuel tax, especially at the state level, it’s currently unclear as to what that impact will be on the trucking industry.

In my column, I write, “From my perspective, it’s far easier to accept tax increases from state governments than the federal government.”  And, “Hopefully this will result in improved highway infrastructure, but unfortunately it will also likely result in increased costs to consumers – even those consumers the president has promised not to raise taxes on.”  I also reflect upon Congressman Tom Graves fuel tax devolution proposal from the last Congress – perhaps its time to take a closer look at that.

Click Here to Read the full article here at Challenge Magazine.


Red Eye Radio

Prior to the holidays I had the opportunity to visit with Eric Harley and Gary McNamara, hosts of Red Eye Radio.  This, in my opinion, is one of the best talk radio programs on the air – even for those not in the trucking industry.

Red Eye RadioRead my feature story on Red Eye Radio in the February 2013 edition of Truckers Connection by clicking here.

On a side note, I have written frequently for Truckers Connection in the past, but have not done so for several years.  It is great to be back in this high quality magazine – it was one of the first print publications I had ever written for.


Truckers and Guns

  The gun control issue has really heated up in Washington as of late (be sure to scroll down for my interview with NRA President David Keene).  And, as I wrote in my January 2013 Layover.com column, it will continue to be a topic of discussion:

  “Over the course of the next several months the President, Congress, and special interest groups will continue to debate how to best address the issues related to gun violence. The elevation of this issue to primacy has also raised questions in the trucking industry as many truckers wonder if they are allowed to carry a gun while operating a commercial motor vehicle.”

  Click here to read my entire Layover.com column “Can Truckers Carry a Gun”, which includes a discussion of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Part I, Chapter 44, Section 926A (18 USC Sec. 926A).  This actually allows for the transport of a gun across state lines, yet it’s not quite that simple and in fact can become rather complex for OTR drivers.  If nothing else, do your research!

  On a side note, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview David Keene, President of the National Rifleman’s Association, back in October 2012 for my local radio program “In the Booth.”  Though some of it is specific to the 2012 election, including some of the more local races, much of what he says is quite prophetic regarding President Obama and his intentions on gun control.  I share that audio here:  NRA President David Keene

 

Marijuana Legal – Not for Drivers!

USDOT Reminds Drivers Marijuana is Still Illegal

It’s my hope that professional truck drivers really did not need a reminder that marijuana use is not permitted, but with Colorado and Washington voters making recreational use legal it was probably a good idea for the US Department of Transportation to remind drivers of just that.

So, because the November 2012 elections not only elected a President of the United States but also legalized recreational use of marijuana in two states the US DOT issued a clarifying statement about marijuana.

In that statement, issued January 24, 2013, the US DOT says, “We want to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program.”  In other words, marijuana – recreational or medical use – remains illegal.  The drug is still illegal on the federal level after all.

Read the text of the full notice here.

While Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, despite the fact that the drug is still illegal at the federal level, other states and local governments are likely to follow suit.  This could be the beginning of a change in how the nation views marijuana, or it could be setting up quite the battle between governments (hang on to your hat federalism).

Regardless, truck drivers should make certain they understand the implications the new laws.

Learn more about FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Programs by clicking here.


Too Much Regulation?

My January 2013 ”Driving Through DC” Column in Challenge Magazine focuses the relief efforts that followed Hurricane Sandy.  Specifically, the federal government stepped in to help, in part, by waiving certain regulations that limited efficiency.  Though I applaud the federal government for recognizing the inefficiencies created by over-regulation, it also makes me wonder….

In the column I ask, “While it would be silly for anyone to argue the government should not be involved in an emergency relief effort, it does seem reasonable to question whether the regulations that were waived are perhaps too stringent as is. If they must be waived to create greater efficiency, why is it that efficiency is only important after a storm?”  Read the full article here.


Program Keeps Trucking Despite Low Interest

My December 2012 column in Challenge Magazine focuses on the Mexican trucking cross-border program, and specifically the lack of participation in the program.  It’s this lack of participation that has caught the attention of some.

In the column, I write “The never-ending saga that is the Mexican trucking cross-border program continues to see support from the administration, and to some degree in Congress, but apparently not from the trucking industry….”

Click here to read the entire column and to find out why Congressman John Mica told me he is concerned about the lack of participation in the program. 


In addition to the column, I had the opportunity to visit with Peter Boyles on 630 KHOW in Denver, Colorado, about the issue.

Listen to the audio here:  PeterBoylesKHOW12052012